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IRAN MAY GET MORE RUSSIA N-REACTORS

SHARE IRAN MAY GET MORE RUSSIA N-REACTORS

Russia reportedly plans to sell three more nuclear reactors to Iran, a move that would increase tensions with the United States at this week's summit in Moscow.

The United States has condemned Russia's previously announced sale of three other reactors to Iran, saying the technology could be used to make nuclear bombs.Washington also has asked Moscow to reconsider plans to sell Iran a centrifuge, which can make weapons-grade nuclear material.

But the Interfax news agency cited a top Russian nuclear regulator as saying Moscow is going ahead with the centrifuge sale, despite objections from Russian regulators.

The Atomic Energy Ministry denied that Russia was planning to sell three more light-water reactors to Iran and said no centrifuge deal was in the works.

U.S. officials have said President Clinton will raise the issue of nuclear sales to Iran at the summit with President Boris Yeltsin.

Russia has said the technology is not military and accuses the United States of trying to corner the market on nuclear technology.

Interfax cited an unidentified official at the Atomic Energy Ministry on Friday as saying Russia would sign three new contracts, totaling $2 billion, for reactors at an Iranian power plant.

The official denied that Russia planned to sell centrifuges to Iran.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said Russian forces have suffered 5,247 casualties - including 1,375 deaths - in their five-month campaign to snuff out Chechnya's self-declared independence.

Independent reports have put the number of military deaths higher.

Grachev told a news conference there were also 3,872 wounded. In addition, 245 soldiers are missing in action and 86 held prisoner by the Chechens.

Thousands of civilians, and an unknown number of Chechen fighters, have also been killed since the Kremlin sent troops into the Caucasus Mountain republic on Dec. 11.

Combat operations continued Saturday near the southern towns of Shali, Bamut, Orekhovo and Alkhan-Yurt, military officials told the ITAR-Tass news agency. They said two Russians and 41 rebels were killed.